Completing the System: Opportunities and Challenges for a National Habitat Conservation System

BioScienceJocelyn L. Aycrigg

Conservation areas within the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and US Territories. ABSTRACT

The United States has achieved significant conservation goals to date, but the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem processes is accelerating. We evaluate opportunities and challenges to conserving our biodiversity by completing a national habitat conservation system, which could stem losses of natural resources and ecosystem services and proactively prepare for climate-change impacts. Lessons learned from two international conservation systems and the infrastructure of national bird conservation partnerships provide examples for completing a national habitat conservation system. One option is to convene a national forum of interested public and private parties to undertake four key actions; develop a common conservation vision and set measurable goals, complete a conservation assessment, use an adaptive management framework to monitor progress toward this vision, and implement strategies to complete a national habitat conservation system. Completing a national habitat conservation system is key to meeting the challenges of conserving habitats and biodiversity of the United States.

Key Takeaways:

  • Research indicates that U.S. needs a comprehensive plan to protect our ecosystems and the variety of animal, plant, and insect species that live in them.
  • Trends in land and water use represent significant threats to ecosystems, plant and animal species, recreation areas, and an acceleration of the impacts of climate change.
  • A large amount of conservation work done by multiple groups has happened in the U.S., establishing over 300 million acres of conservation areas.
  • Research team found three models that could be used to develop a plan:

Four Key Actions:

  • Develop a common vision and establish measurable goals.
  • Complete an assessment of the current state of conservation in the U.S.
  • Set standards and use an adaptive management framework to monitor progress.
  • Implement strategies to complete the national habitat conservation system.

NatureServe Author(s)

Citation

  • Jocelyn L. Aycrigg, Craig Groves, Jodi A. Hilty, J. Michael Scott, Paul Beier, D. A. Boyce, Jr., Dennis Figg, Healy Hamilton, Gary Machlis, Kit Muller, K. V. Rosenberg, Raymond M. Sauvajot, Mark Shaffer, and Rand Wentworth. Completing the System: Opportunities and Challenges for a National Habitat Conservation System. BioScience 2016 : biw090v2-biw090.